Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Giant hogweed sends Virginia teen to hospital, burn unit

DEA  C. SAPPA via Getty Images            
                    Giant hogweed in France DEA C. SAPPA via Getty Images Giant hogweed in France
Anna Jefferson | 17 July, 2018, 06:45

Somehow this was relatively fortunate for Childress, as Giant Hogweed sap can cause much worse, including permanent blindness.

The 17-year-old high school graduate was working at his landscaping job on Tuesday when he came into contact with the plant.

"We were working outside a factory and I snipped down a bush and it fell and touched my face", Childress said. "I didn't pay any mind to it because I do it all the time". "I just don't say it because he's my kid, but he's one of the toughest kids that I've ever seen", Justin Childress continued. He told People that when he first got in the shower after landscaping, "big chunks" of skin were falling off his face. He ended up with second- and third-degree burns to his face and left arm.

The teenager was immediately rushed to the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, from where he was transferred to the VCU's burn center.

His coworkers and family did contact state agencies after it was determined he had come in contact with the Hogweed plant. The umbrella-shaped white floral blooms grow up to two and a half feet wide.

Dan Kraus, a biologist with the conservancy, said the invasive Asian species likely arrived in Canada in the 1940s and can now be found in areas of the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, and has been spreading in southern Ontario and southern B.C. "I'm feeling better", he told WWBT. "There are certain aspects that are painful like when they clean off dead skin or blisters, that's sore".

Giant hogweed sends Virginia teen to hospital, burn unit

Alex was given a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Tech with plans to enroll in the Corps of Cadets later this year. His skin will be sensitive to sunlight for months, causing the teen to worry about entering college in the fall. Childress is being discharged today after receiving intensive care.

"Everyone has been really supportive", Childress said.

The NYDEC also offers advice on how to control giant hogweed as the toxic plant can be controlled manually, mechanically, and with herbicides.

"Don't go anywhere near it", Childress said.

In Virginia, giant hogweed is classified as a Tier 1 noxious weed, requiring that "no person shall move, transport, deliver, ship, or offer for shipment into or within the Commonwealth any noxious weed" without a permit. The sap can also cause blistering and scarring if it gets on bare skin. "The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact", stated the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

There have been confirmed sightings of giant hogweed in three Virginia counties: Rockingham, Clarke and Fauquier.

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